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IOTM – Dr. Dean Edell

JUNE 2012: Dr. Dean Edell is a physician, self-described hippie, and media personality whose straightforward and refreshing approach to health and lifestyle issues has charmed and educated America for more than three decades.

Dr. Edell’s opposition to infant circumcision began after he made the acquaintance of Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC). Having already fathered and agreed to the circumcision of his first three sons, Dr. Edell became an intactivist, protecting his next two boys, and thereafter speaking out publicly against the practice.

Dr. Edell studied zoology in college, went to medical school at Cornell University, and trained as an eye surgeon. After a short time in practice, he left medicine to pursue alternative ventures, such as selling antiques, collecting art, and organic farming. In the mid-1970s, Dr. Edell moved to the San Francisco area, where he again gravitated to medicine—but not private practice. In 1979, after a casual introduction made by a friend, powerhouse KGO Radio put “Dr. Dean” on the air to address questions on any health-related topic. For years, his was the top-rated program on San Francisco’s number one station. “Radio is the medium,” he says. “It communicates like no other. It has a special nuance that no other media has, and anyone can call and participate.” Personable, knowledgeable, and approachable, Dr. Edell achieved national syndication in radio and television. He was the first physician to host his own daily network television show. NBC’s Dr. Dean did an entire segment on circumcision in 1991, exposing large audiences to the issue. He has received numerous awards and reached many millions of viewers and listeners each week for more than thirty years.

“Because I don’t have a private practice, I have time to do the research required to intelligently instruct listeners as to how and where they might find help to improve their health, and at the same time, alert them to fraudulent products and treatments that may even prove harmful,” he says.

Dr. Edell has regularly spoken out on radio and other media against one of those fraudulent “treatments”—infant circumcision. His “Circumcision Decision” video, available on Intact America’s home page, has also been viewed by tens of thousands of people. Says Marilyn Milos, “Dean had the courage to hear the message, to protect his last two sons, and to speak up for all babies. He has saved innumerable babies because he was willing to speak out in their defense. He deserves to be honored.”

In recent years, Dr. Edell has also strongly criticized the campaign to promote circumcision as a measure for preventing the transmission of HIV in Africa. “The idea,” he says, “that we Westerners are going to march into Africa… and are going to… perform an operation on millions and millions of men, when we refuse to feed [them], get them useful jobs, and bring them fresh water, is so naïve that it expresses to me the true desperation of the circumcision lobby.”

“Dean Edell is one of those people who—plainly and simply—has made the world a better place,” says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. “I listened to his radio show for years, and always marveled at how he could demystify medical questions and topics with honesty and common sense. His willingness to speak out against circumcision to a national radio audience certainly played a major part in helping Americans to understand that the intact male body is healthy and natural, and that babies should be left whole, the way nature intended.”

“Intact America is carrying forth the work begun by Marilyn Milos in the 1970s—work that I was so fortunate to become aware of,” says Dr. Edell. “I like to think that I have played a role in the growing trend of keeping babies intact, and I am truly comforted knowing that the fight for a child’s genital rights is now in such capable hands. I must finally admit to some optimism, fully aware of course that the battle is far from over.”

In 2010, Dr. Edell retired—sort of. He still travels, donates his time to public service activities, and produces weekly radio spots. Intact America is proud to count him among our supporters, and we look forward to his continuing contributions to a healthier, happier world.

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.